For more than 30 years there's been a market and some sort of café at Alpine Meadows, on the corner of Highway 99 and Alpine Way. However, owners say their ability to remain viable on the space depends on the municipality rezoning the property to allow it to grow in size and diversify what they offer.
"We're afraid that we're going to be redundant as what we are right now," said Patty Heintzman, one of the co-owners of the Alpine Meadows Market. "We just want the ability to change and as it stands now, zoned exactly as we are... we're on the road to disappearing."
The biggest change for the owners is the municipality's decision to rezone commercial space in the Rainbow Subdivision to allow for a larger convenience store, 2,400 square feet, to go with the gas station. As well, Rainbow is zoned for a 15,000 square foot grocery store. Both will compete with the Alpine Market, and possibly the Alpine Café.
Last week, Alpine owners held a community event, passing out questionnaires and asking people what they would like to see happen with the space. Heintzman says they have roughly 10,000 square feet that they can develop and various uses have been suggested. Ideas include a small hair salon, a cold beer and wine store, a bike and ski tuning shop and office space. Likely they would also reconfigure the existing space to make the market smaller and the restaurant — which has just 12 seats during the winter months — larger.
"We'd like to hear their suggestions," said Heinztman of her customers. "But it all depends on what the planning department has in mind for us because a lot of development space has been given to Rainbow and we get what's left over. And right now it's stated through the OCP that we can't have more development here."
Heintzman said the goal is to remain, adding to the space rather than replacing it with something else.
"We would like to continue as we are, but on a bigger scale," she said.
"There are a lot of issues, including whether it's cost effective — and if we got less than 10,000 square feet (of zoned space) it wouldn't be because we have to upgrade an old building."
So far the market has received about 50 questionnaires back, which they took to the municipality last week. There's a lot of support for keeping the restaurant and store in the neighbourhood, "and they'd like to see a cold beer and wine store and a neighbourhood pub."
Heintzman said they have already approached the municipality, but due to a staff change in the planning department the new person isn't as familiar with the project. She would like to hear back soon they can file a request for zoning as soon as possible.
"There's a traffic study and an environmental study, we've done concept mapping and diagrams for the changes we'd like to make to the building — everything (municipal hall) has asked for, we've done, and if they said this looks good we'd like them to send it to council."
Heintzman said they would like to have the zoning in place and as much of the work completed as possible before work begins at Rainbow. "There's no word on a gas company saying 'yes, we'll take the place,' or from IGA — they've said yes but whether it's going to be a corporate-owned store or a franchise with a coffee shop, we just don't know. We'd like to have the ability to become something new before that."
On May 3, Council approved third reading of the gas station plans at Rainbow,.which includes doubling the size of the convenience store.
The gas station went from 1,200 square feet to 2,400 square feet. By comparison, the Husky gas station has 3,000 square feet.
The decision came after weeks of flip-flopping last fall over the fate of Rainbow's gas station.
The previous council pushed the project through and then last September, at third reading, it pulled the plug in a five-to-two vote against the project.
At issue were the plans to increase the size, given that the developers were also looking to increase the size of the neighbouring commercial core.
A few weeks later, at the request of former councillor Tom Thomson, council reconsidered its position with some caveats, including information on the larger commercial core development.
This council rejected plans to increase the size of the commercial core area earlier this year.
Rainbow's developers asked for the increase in size of to convenience store in order to entice a gas company to the neighbourhood. With so little store space, the developers maintained they were unable to find a gas company to operate the six-pump station.